Thousands call Washington during 'phone march'

More than 3,000 phone calls poured into Washington D.C. Tuesday as people opposed to an online gambling ban answered the Poker Players Alliance's (PPA) call to join in a "phone march" and express their views about the ban to their senators.

All 100 senators received calls from constituents during the day with many of them receiving more than 100 calls.

"The March sent a clear message to the Senate that Americans are passionate about their ability to play this popular game of skill on the Internet. Congress can no longer disregard citizen support for online poker and their freedom to use the Internet," said Michael Bolcerek, PPA president. "Poker is a game rooted deep in American tradition and simply putting the word 'Internet' in front of poker should not make the game or the people who play it suspect."

H.R. 4411, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, was approved by the House of Representatives in July. It would basically ban gambling online, including poker, but exclude betting on horse racing and state-run lotteries.

The PPA is a grassroots organization whose goal is to promote and protect the game of poker. The group has been working to prevent the online gambling ban from passing into law in order to protect a player's right to play poker online.

"We hope that the Senate will take a more enlightened approach to online poker. Rather than prohibiting the game, Congress must work towards regulation to ensure the security of online sites while upholding the rights of their constituents to play the game they love," said Bolcerek.

The Senate has yet to vote on the bill, and some have said it's a low priority as the Senate wraps up for the year. However, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been working to get a modified version of the bill, which would that would prohibit people from using credit cards and bank accounts to settle Internet gambling debts, attached to a defense bill to try to push the legislation through by the end of the session.

"As Congress moves further down this path [of trying to ban online gambling], poker players will only step up their efforts and fight even harder to defend their game," Bolcerek said. "The political voice of the poker player is growing, and we fully intend for Congress to hear it."

Related articles: Iowa Online Gambling Ban Field Hearing One- Sided, Gambling Bill Vote Not Expected Before August Break, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Warns Senate About Gambling Bill, and Baptist Group Wants Online Gambling Bill Passed.

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